5 things to watch this weekend – 23 to 25 February

The new Kelly Reichardt finally shows up, but mainly on disc, while two dark reckonings with the American west arrive on Blu-ray.

23 February 2024

By Sam Wigley

Showing Up (2022)

Where’s it on? Blu-ray and some cinemas

Somehow this latest but already two years old film from Kelly Reichardt has slipped through the cracks of UK distribution. Although Reichardt is internationally prized for her quiet, delicately observed tales of the Pacific Northwest – from Old Joy (2006) to First Cow (2019) – Showing Up is only emerging now as it goes straight to Blu-ray, but with a smattering of cinemas rallying to the cause by screening it. Starring her regular collaborator Michelle Williams as a Portland sculptor preparing for an exhibition, it’s the director’s warmest, funniest and most beguiling work to date, refreshingly authentic and respectful in its portrayal of the real-world labour of artistic creation and the insecurities that come part and parcel with it.

A Time for Dying (1969)

Where’s it on? Blu-ray

A Time for Dying (1969)

Movie history remembers The Wild Bunch and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as the key westerns of 1969, but what if the best and most penetrating cowboy picture of that year is actually this sunset release from ageing genre master Budd Boetticher? Featuring Audie Murphy in his final role, playing Jesse James, it’s the kind of low-budget western still being turned out of small corners of the studio system at the end of the 60s – the scene mythologised in Quentin Tarantino’s Once upon a Time in Hollywood (2019). It comes down to us steeped in elegiac, old-timer melancholy, but with an acid critique on the roles dished out to women in the old west that marks it as strikingly modern. An essential Blu-ray release from Indicator.

Monolith (2022)

Where’s it on? Digital platforms

In the same vein of low-budget ingenuity as films like Pontypool (2008), Locke (2013) and The Guilty (2018), Matt Vesely’s debut feature confines itself to a single location but constructs a world of suspense through its protagonist’s phone conversations. The lone on-screen character is a disgraced journalist turned presenter of a podcast about unsolved mysteries. Through a succession of calls, an intrigue develops around a number of people whose lives have been mysteriously affected after coming into possession of a strange brick. As the interviewer (she’s never named) becomes more and more obsessed with the case, this nifty Australian sci-fi spins an impressive sense of a character wrapped inside an existential enigma – all without leaving her house.

City of God (2002)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide including BFI Southbank

Spanning the 1960s to the early 80s, City of God is Fernando Meirelles’s brutal and exhilaratingly pungent epic of life in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro – specifically the notorious Cidade de Deus. Violent tales of favela life have become a cottage industry since, so it’s worth using this 21st anniversary re-release to (re)familiarise yourself with the movie that started it all, a film that changed the air on release in 2003 with its flashy, urgent, street-level tale of organised crime and the young lives getting swept up in it. It’s a film made with a confidence and passion that was heard around the world, making Meirelles’s movie – co-directed by Katia Lund – a major crossover hit. Interestingly, Meirelles is now talking about a director’s cut, so this may be the last chance to see the release version on the big screen.

Lone Star (1996)

Where’s it on? Blu-ray

Lone Star (1996)
Criterion

Lone Star is the tale of intrigue on the Tex-Mex border that, back in 1996, most people agreed was among US indie great John Sayles’s finest achievements to date. It’s not been around so much in recent years, but now gets a handsome new Criterion Blu-ray featuring the requisite 4K restoration. It’s set in the present day, but everyone wears cowboy hats so it’s a mystery in the clothes of a western and one steeped in the trauma of bloody deeds and buried secrets in the borderlands. Chris Cooper plays the town sheriff investigating the fate of one of his predecessors after a skull is discovered out in the desert. Matthew McConaughey, Kris Kristofferson and Elizabeth Peña also star.